The Thirty-A Review September 2020

g o o d w i l l

Finding Hope and Relief b y L i e s e l S c h m i d t

directly impacted the families and individuals that their various organizations support in the local community. The non profits chosen include Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast, Bridgeway Center, Caterpillar 2 Butter- fly Outreach Center, Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida, Children in Crisis, the Early Learning Coalition of the Emerald Coast, the Eleanor J. Johnson Youth Center, Feeding the Gulf Coast, Fresh Start for Children & Families, the Homelessness and Housing Alliance, the Mental Health Association, Okaloosa County Council on Aging, One Hopeful Place, Opportunity Place, S4P Synergy, Sharing & Caring, Habitat for Humanity Okaloosa County, and the Salvation Army—all of which have proven to be essential to the communities they served in years past and have, during these past months, become an even greater source of support. Without the grants, however, these organizations struggle to provide the help that so many rely on. Fortunately, local businesses across the Emerald Coast have risen to the challenge and offered the money that is so greatly needed in these trying times. Proving that they are truly community-minded, the Gulf Power Founda- tion, Florida Blue, Publix Super Markets, Eglin Federal Credit Union, Wind Creek Hospitality, Beast Code, the Truist Foundation, Beach Community Bank, Hancock Whitney, Wells Fargo, and Whole Foods as well as more than 40 individual donors have graciously and gen- erously donated money to the United Way Emerald Coast COVID-19 Relief Fund. As one would expect, the impact these funds have made is enormous. “We are extremely thankful for our partnership with the United Way Emerald Coast, and we have been able to recontinue serving several families in Okaloosa and Walton Counties because of the United Way’s COVID-19 relief funding,” says CEO Shervin of the Boys and Girls Clubs. “As our communities slowly and safely reopen, we are proud to have the support of our local United Way in aiding in our transitions.” Throughout our struggles, it is the ways in which we come together that truly prove our heart as a community—and the grants provided by these generous souls are proof that we have a great heart.

Throughout our struggles, it is the ways in which we come together that truly prove our heart as a community—and the grants provided by these generous souls are proof that we have a great heart.

change, the organization assesses the diverse needs of the community, rallies whatever care and support is needed, and focuses its resources to the areas that will serve the greatest good. As the world faces the disastrous effects caused by COVID-19, United Way Emerald Coast has released $215,000 in four phases of grant money to local non profits throughout Okaloosa and Walton counties from their COVID-19 Relief Fund. These grant moneys provide essential support to charities that offer assistance with housing, utility payments, healthcare costs, child- care, and food security to individuals and families impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. “We launched the COVID-19 Relief Fund to support our most vulnerable neighbors—those who might suffer devastating economic and health impacts because of the virus,” says Kelly Jasen, who serves as CEO of United Way Emerald Coast. “We are proud to have strong partnerships with local businesses and individuals who answered the call for help. Because of their generosity and partnerships with other non-profits across Okaloosa and Walton counties, we’re able to quickly get these critical funds to the individuals and families who need them most.” Naturally, the charities were required to submit COVID-19 relief grant applications in order to be con- sidered for funding; and each of the chosen charities must also submit results that offer data providing specific information regarding the ways in which the funds have

T hese past months have been trying times for all of us—both in business and in our personal lives. We face a great struggle as a nation, and these are days that remind us of the importance of supporting one another in our communities. The Emerald Coast is one that has been through much throughout its history, but its people have proven their heart through it all. As we now find ourselves, along with the rest of the country and the world, in the midst of COVID-19 and the many ways that it is impacting our daily lives, it is organizations like United Way Emerald Coast that prove that they truly have the needs of the community at heart. Created to be a local, volunteer-governed organiza- tion that works with hundreds of partners to act as advocates for the health, education, and financial stabil- ity of the people of Okaloosa and Walton counties, United Way Emerald Coast is tireless in its pursuit to better the local community. In the effort to drive positive

For more information on how to support the COVID-19 Relief Fund, please visit www.united-way. org/relief.

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